Laura Ashley reorganises

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LAURA ASHLEY is sacking its chief executive and finance director and up to 200 staff at its Fulham head office in a fresh reorganisation announced after the stock market closed last night. Chief executive David Hoare who joined the group in September last year is leaving with effect from tomorrow.

He will be replaced by Victoria Egan, who was brought in as deputy chief executive in April, at the same time as Malayan United Industries Berhad injected pounds 43m of fresh capital into the business by subscribing for 159 million new shares at 28p a share, giving them a 40 per cent stake in the group. Finance director Richard Pennycock will go later in the year, and will be replaced by two heads of finance reporting to the new chief executive. David Hoare is expected to leave with a full year's salary of pounds 200,000, Richard Pennycock will take away several months of his salary which is pounds 160,000 a year.

The changes will save the loss-making business around pounds 3m a year but will create a charge of pounds 2.5m against the results for the first half of the current year to 30 September. The shares shed 0.5p to 21p yesterday.